Baron Browning was the biggest steal of the 2021 NFL Draft

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

May 2nd, 2021

The 2021 NFL Draft is now complete. While everyone takes inventory of the selections, let’s take a look at one of the best "steals" of the draft. We're talking about a player who was selected lower than he deserved relative to the impact he may have at the next level.

Broncos found a winner in Baron Browning

With the very last pick of the third round, the Denver Broncos selected former Ohio State linebacker Baron Browning. As the 105th player chosen, this was a great selection, and gives the Broncos a talented and athletic new linebacker who can help continue a recent tradition of defensive excellence in the Mile High City.

Browning has the size and speed to excel at the next level

Browning was a big-time recruit out of the state of Texas prior to arriving at Ohio State. While there, he played in 32 games and accumulated 109 tackles, including 19 tackles for loss. As a former five-star recruit, Browning was actually considered a better talent entering college than several current NFL starters, including his fellow teammate at Ohio State, Chase Young.

Browning would see playing time all four years, and clearly demonstrated the athletic ability to pressure off the edge. Browning is 6’3, 245 pounds, and clocked a 4.56 40-yard dash.

Good coaching will get the most out of Browning's potential

While Browning never accumulated tremendous statistics, much of that can be contributed to the simple fact that Ohio State’s defense was so talented and well-rounded that he wasn’t relied on to be a tackling machine as opposing offenses drove down the field.

The Buckeyes have NFL talent at all positions, and were able to routinely get off the field. Browning demonstrated the ability to play at different spots on the field, but when the defensive talent on a roster far exceeds the opposing offensive capability like was often the case for Ohio State, players are asked to “stay in their lane” and execute sound defense.

While the knock on him is his ability to execute at a high-level consistently as a newly-minted professional, I’m not concerned about this criticism. I believe with good coaching and financial incentives, Browning will showcase his talent regularly.

For the Broncos, the incoming linebacker presents an immediate opportunity to insert a player that can rush off the edge and play both strongside and weakside linebacker. He has an NFL-ready frame, and if properly utilized, can utilize his tremendous athleticism and instinctual attacking ability to disrupt offenses.

Browning is a dark horse Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate

His highlight film shows a player that easily and naturally slices through blockers to find the ball and stand the ball-carrier up at impact. If Browning can consistently rack up tackles, he may be a dark horse Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate at +5000.

Linebackers have a natural advantage in that competition due to their ability to make plays all over the field and in multiple statistical categories. Depending on how Von Miller bounces back, Browning may hear coaches call him to the field more often than anticipated.

Regardless of his immediate impact, Browning has the frame and background to be a long-time impact player for the Broncos.